Summer of Our Decolonial Love - 13

By Mark Solomon posted 09-20-2018 11:27


First Contact – The Last Show I wanna see

So you may have missed that APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) just put out a series called First Contact.  The premise of the series is to take six non-Indigenous people with what those six identify as the average Canadian’s (read that white) view of Indigenous people.  Over the course of a month the six travel extensively to various urban, northern and First Nations, meeting with Indigenous people who attempt to convert them.

This series is three episodes, all available for streaming here.  BUT wait don’t click yet.  I want to put some warnings up.  One, if you are triggered by racisim, don’t click, if you are triggered by unacknowledged privilege don’t click, in fact I would rather you didn’t click.

Now I LOVE LOVE LOVE APTN, especially for their children’s programming, my daughter watched Tipi tales and Wapos Bay my family loved it.  APTN Investigates really blew the lid of the whole Joseph Boyden identity issue.  But damn, I hated this show. 

I watched the first full episode at 45 mins then had to fast forward through the other two.  These six were my twitter trolls.  Honestly look at #nativetwitter find a big name and cruise through the responses to one of their posts, you will see allies and hate.  APTN choose to broadcast these “average” Canadians’ hate towards Indigenous people.  Comments such as …clean up your yard; they are all drunks; they get so much; get a job were rampant.  The CBC made a decision years ago to not allow comments on Indigenous stories.  I feel like I might have had a part of that.    

My Brock University MA in Social Justice MRP focused on the CBC comments from 2009-2013 focused on stories that were about Residential schools.  I looked at 76 of those stories, that had 3217 comments from 1912 users (often users engaged in debate with each other each post was considered another comment).  Of all those comments 705 were racist or othering.  That is 21.9%, that is not average. 

The 705 comments that I considered racist I broke into five categories of various types of racism these are

  • Indigenous peoples as Tyrannical (Canadians are held hostage by Indigenous people)
  • Indigenous peoples as Manipulator (Indigenous peoples as not paying taxes or wasting Tax money)
  • Indigenous Peoples as Genocidal (Indigenous people living in the past not being able to move on)
  • Indigenous Peoples as Inferior (Indigenous people as a lessor than human ie savage non society conforming)
  • Indigenous Peoples as False Martyr (Residential Schools were really for the good of Indigenous peoples)

These categories are theory based, that no one wants to read about here.  These all represent what we would have called in 2015, when I completed this MRP, as micro aggressions.  Micro really is a misnomer.  Honestly as someone who faces and reads these “micro aggressions”in my twitter feed every day it is honestly death by a thousand cuts.

First Contact is not a show for Indigenous peoples.  It is not a show ABOUT Indigenous peoples.  It is about the racism that we face every day.  I am not a fan of the Kiaros Blanket excerise.  Much like that exercise this show is about colonization and privilege.  It is about Canada and its history of how it treats Indigenous peoples yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Yes this show and that exercise shows non-Indigenous Canadians their history but damn, do I really need to show you.  Why do I have to do this work?  Why is the victim further victimized. 

There is great privilege in being able to forget or not know, there is even more privilege in expecting the survivor to explain to you your wrongs.

Honestly, don't tell me you watched the show, I feel like I live it